As you sit and look adoringly at your new hardwood floors, you think about the time, effort, and expense that went into installing them. And you're delighted with the final result. Now it's time to think about ongoing care and maintenance to keep your floors in excellent condition and to make them last even longer than their warranties. Hardwood flooring has been used for centuries, and for good reason. If you follow some basic, simple steps, your floor will work for you for as long as you need it to.
First, different hardwood floors have different types of surface coatings, and each type requires specific cleaning and upkeep procedures. Caring for your floor with the wrong products or methods can actually void your warranty, so it's vital you do your research and follow the guidelines provided by your product's documentation and/or your retailer. That's hard-fast rule number one.
Number two, for all types of hardwood flooring, you need to have a gatekeeper, meaning a good walk-off mat or rug at the threshold of any entrances to the outside. Grit, debris, and water are all carried along on people's shoes, and a top quality doormat will trap those enemies of hardwoods before they're allowed to be deposited on your floor. That's the best first line of defense. For all types of hardwood floors, sweeping or vacuuming regularly is a must. But be sure, if you use a vacuum, that it does not have a "beater brush."
On to cleaning: another universal rule to follow for any hardwood is when mopping never allow water to actually pool on the surface of the floor (along with this, cleaning spills immediately is essential for all hardwood floor types). Only ever use a damp mop head that has been wrung out thoroughly. Floors that have been impregnated with acrylic and have a urethane sealer are a breeze to clean. After sweeping, just damp mop with a recommended cleaner.
Don't use oil soaps, and never use household cleaners that include ammonia or bleach. For acrylic coated floors without a urethane sealant, you clean the same way but occasionally might need to use a buffer to bring back the shine in addition to cleaning.
For hardwood floors that are coated with polyurethane, use recommended cleaners and never wet-mop. Also avoid using petroleum-based cleaners, wax, or household dusting sprays. When the shine dulls, it's time to refinish and reapply a coat of urethane. For wax coated floors, you should never use water-based cleaners and buff when the shine diminishes.